"It's a little overwhelming, I don't look at anything I've done as anything extraordinary."
I had the opportunity to chat with the first ever and very humble, March of Dimes Mother of the Year. The organization will honor Erin Morris of Plainville at their first Brunch for Babies event this Saturday.
Erin says, "the first two thirds of my pregnancy was normal, he was growing really well, we were getting everything ready... the doctors were completely happy with everything but decided to schedule one more ultrasound at 28 weeks, just to check, the doctor told me, we're not worried about anything." That's when doctors noticed her son's heart was enlarged. Erin says she made it to 32 weeks before the baby started showing signs of distress. That's when doctors performed a c-section. Griffin weighed 5lbs 8oz and was diagnosed with mild chronic lung disease, pulmonary valve stenosis and tracheomalacia. He was immediately whisked away to the NICU. "I heard one little cry and he was off to a room next door, I didn't get to hold him, nurse him or touch him. It was hours and hours before I could see him, it was excruciating. I sent my husband in to make sure he was ok."
Griffin spent two and a half months in the hospital. "Everyday I got up, went to the hospital, spent all day there, my husband would come after work, and we'd do it again the next day." "The nurses were great," she says and said to her at one point, "wow, you're here everyday" and Erin said, "where else would I be? If I was home, I'd be feeding and bathing him." She said the nurses let her take care of Griffin as much as possible during his time in the NICU.
While Erin was pregnant, she and her husband took a CPR class. Shortly after Griffin came home from the hospital, she was sitting in the back seat of the car while her husband drove, "Griffin started fussing and crying, then turned blue. I ripped him out of his car seat and started performing CPR." EMT's told the couple Griffin's heart was pressing on his airway, so he had to have more surgery and spent another month and a half in the hospital.
Erin says the March of Dimes helped her connect with other "trach moms" and they've developed a "really great connection." She says once they got home from the hospital she left her job to take care of Griffin and wanted to volunteer with the organization to "pay back the kindness we had seen in the hospital" and to "get other families through their NICU days." Erin set up a team for March for Babies and they asked Griffin to be the ambassador baby for the event! A short time later, the March of Dimes notified her that they'd like to honor her as the Mother of the Year.
Erin tells me Griffin will have to keep his trach in for a while and will eventually need heart surgery, but today, he's a "happy and loving 10 month old who loves to laugh. We attribute our attitude to him, he kept fighting, he taught me what it means to be strong."
If you'd like more information about Saturday's event featuring author Jennifer Weiner click here. To learn more about how the nonprofit organization helps moms and babies or how to volunteer, check out the March of Dimes web page.
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